A. Thomas McLellan

I had no idea that McLellan has been so personally affected by addiction:

But the loss of his younger son, who overdosed on anti-anxiety medication and Scotch last year at age 30 while his older son was in residential treatment for alcoholism and cocaine addiction, changed his perspective.

“That’s why I took this job,” said Dr. McLellan, who was sworn in as the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in August. “I thought it was some kind of sign, you know. I would never have done it. I loved all the people I’ve worked with, I loved my life. But I thought maybe there’s a way where what I know plus what I feel could make a difference.”

Married to a recovering cocaine addict, Dr. McLellan has been engulfed by addiction in life and work. His own family has been a personal battleground for one of the country’s most complex and entrenched problems, while as an expert he has been a leading voice for the idea that addiction is a chronic illness and not a moral issue.

6 thoughts on “A. Thomas McLellan

  1. That's very sad but it also seems very sad that someone who couldn't keep his own kids off drugs is in charge of keeping the nation's kids off drugs.

  2. I couldn't disagree more. If addiction is an illness like type 2 diabetes or heart disease, does it make any sense to blame families. It sounds like you overestimate the power of a parent to prevent addiction. One could argue that he's too close to the issue to be objective, but I prefer someone who has a professional and personal stake in the issue–just as I'd feel good about a chief cancer policy maker having been affected by a family member with cancer.

  3. Maybe a person who has bad health habits is more likely to get diabetes or heart disease than someone with good health habits but someone can get diabetes and heart disease without ever having any bad health habit. To get addiction you have to use drugs over and over. Kids are less likely to use drugs over and over if they have parents who act like parents and are involved with their kids. So how much better is it to keep your kids off drugs in the first place than to just try to do damage control after it's too late and most of the time damage control doesn't work anyway. I'd rather see someone in charge who knows how to keep kids from using in the first place.

  4. Well, the Monitoring the Future data was just released. 73% of 12th graders report lifetime use of alcohol, 47% report life time use of a drug and 24% report lifetime use of a drug other than marijuana. You're excluding an awful lot of people.

  5. Most do not use drugs at all and the majority of those who use don't use enough to get addicted. Parents can't absolutely control that but they can help prevent it. Why do you have to call it "blame," it's just looking for a cause and a way to prevent it happening. It's not about being good parents or bad parents or good kids or bad kids, it's about there are ways to help keep kids off drugs and it's better to keep them from starting or progressing in the first place. A lot of good parents lose a lot of good kids because we throw up our hands and say we can't do anything to keep them away from drugs. No matter how good treatment is or whether or not it's available and we all know it's not as available as it should be, a lot of people die before they get there.

  6. To Anonymous; I respectfully disagree with your post about Dr McClellan "not being able to keep his own kids off drugs" Have you raised kids? Have you ever had a loved one struggle with this disease? Before you make such statements I invite you to actually learn about substance abuse and drug addiction.I hope it never does happen to you, but if you did lose a loved one or become addicted yourself you may be humbled and quickly.

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